Subtle updates make for an easy refresh
By Colin Anderson
As the days continue to get longer and the temperatures slowly warmer, our urge to spend more time outside grows as well. Spring is a time of renewal, and for many that often includes decluttering, organizing and freshening up our homes both inside and out. We have a few precious months to spend outside before the bite of fall hits again. It’s paramount to enjoy these long warm days, and there are several small improvements you can do both indoors and out to make this summer even more enjoyable.
While yard work isn’t the top priority of most homeowners, simplifying your landscaping will help limit the amount of time you spend weeding, raking, and hauling lawn debris away in the future. Communities all across the West are asking residents to conserve water. Droughts in the Southwest have strained watersheds, and though the Northwest isn’t suffering the same shortages, water conservation is still top of mind. Keeping a lawn and landscape green can take a tremendous amount of water, especially in between rainstorms. Replacing your landscaping with drought-resistant plants and grasses not only decreases your water use, but lowers your water bill and, in some cases, can even qualify you for a regional tax incentive.
There are many kinds of plants, tall and short decorative grasses, as well as herbs and ground cover that require much less water to thrive. When planting, keep things close together to help shade the soil and protect the moisture barrier. Also, be sure to cover the soil with porous rocks, or mulch. Professional gardeners and landscapers in your area will also be familiar with native plants to specific regions and can offer more detailed recommendations.
If you want to rid yourself of mowing entirely, you might consider artificial turf. Materials have come a long way since the spongy bright green surfaces we most associate with baseball and soccer fields. Today’s turf is tailored to many situations depending on use; everything from durable high traffic to kids/pets, to decorative gardens. There are three main materials used: nylon, which feels most like natural grass but is not as durable; polypropylene, which is highly durable but does not have the same natural look as nylon; or polyethylene, which has a more natural look and is easier for pet clean-up and light usage. While more expensive than sod, the long-term water and time savings might just outweigh the upfront cost.
While still outside, you might also consider an outdoor dining area. Those who enjoy their deck already might simply look to add an updated table and seating or possibly a large sun shade in order to enjoy the space during all conditions. Putting in a single-level patio is also not as difficult or as long of a project as it might seem. Choose whether you want poured concrete, pavers, or a slightly elevated deck with either wood or composite materials. Contractors should be able to finish a job in less than a week, and with careful planning, the DIY crowd should be able to do the same over a couple of weekends.
Inside the home, one of the easiest ways to brighten and freshen up your look is to put a new coat of paint on the walls. While color is always a personal choice, dark and charcoal grays as well as raspberry reds are a trending favorite of designers in 2023. Vintage colors from the ‘70s to early ‘80s, like mustard yellows and pale greens, are also becoming fashionable for those wanting a trendy and bolder look.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a cluttered shed or garage, there are some simple steps you can take to not only organize but create more space and peace of mind. Generally speaking, the more upright and off the ground your items are, the more space you will have. Metal shelving is easily installed with a couple of screws into the stud. You can stack these high to put less utilized items like holiday decorations up and out of the way. Vertical tool racks are also an easy way to keep your rakes, shovels and brooms upright, taking up as little space as possible. You’ll be amazed at how much space you’ll save by putting in a wall-mounted bike rack, and the tried-and-true peg board is an easy place to store and see small tools. Finally, tuck away kid toys, decorations, seasonal goods, camping equipment, etc. in large plastic tubs and place them on your shelving. Just be sure to label each.
While an entire home exterior paint job might be out of the budget, a few simple upgrades can also freshen up your home’s curbside appearance. Start with a new mailbox, something that speaks to your personality. Next, try updating your address numbers to something more modern. While you are at it, paint or stain the front door. Finally, take your porch or garage lights to the next level with LED lighting, which can change colors dependent on your mood or the season with a simple swipe of your phone.
While there is seemingly always some improvement we can make to our living spaces, summer is not the time to get bogged down with a month’s long project. Give your home a small refresh this spring, and you’ll be ready for an even more enjoyable summer.